Those who also received the 26th Annual Kennedy Center Honors included musician James Brown, singer Loretta Lynn and violinist Itzhak Perlman. The 2003 Honorees were saluted in a gala performance at the Kennedy Center's Opera House Dec. 7. President and Mrs. Bush received the Honorees at the White House prior to the performance. CBS will broadcast the two-hour event Dec. 26 at 9 PM ET; check local listings.
A host of theatre and TV royalty paid tribute to Carol Burnett at the Dec. 7 ceremony. Academy Award winner Julie Andrews introduced the segment devoted to her friend Burnett, offering a verse of "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together," which Burnett made famous during her long running CBS television show. Others who came out to honor Burnett included current Gypsy star Bernadette Peters, theatre veteran Elaine Stritch, recent Nine star Chita Rivera, "Brady Bunch" mom Florence Henderson and two of her TV variety show cohorts, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman.
The Burnett tribute featured the aforementioned stars dressed in signature Bob Mackie costumes from "The Carol Burnett Show." Peters was seen as the charwoman with mop and bucket, Stritch played the lovable loser Eunice, Rivera was the narcoleptic Stella Toddler and Andrews was Starlett O'Hara.
The segment honoring Mike Nichols included appearances by Tom Stoppard, Candice Bergen, Elaine May, Christine Baranski and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Two of the stars of the Nichols directed "Angels in America" — Meryl Streep and Patrick Wilson — were also on hand to pay tribute to the award-winning director.
Honorees are recognized for lifetime contribution to American culture in the fields of dance, music, theatre, opera, motion pictures or television. Recommendations of possible nominees were made by members of the Kennedy Center's national artists committee, past honorees as well as these artists: Jane Alexander, Dan Akroyd, Antonio Banderas, Joshua Bell, Dave Brubeck, Kevin Costner, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Douglas, Nora Ephron, Renee Fleming, Paloma Herrera, Gregory Hines, Anthony Hopkins, Angelica Huston, Jeremy Irons, Nathan Lane, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Rob Marshall, Audra McDonald, Sherrill Milnes, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Martin Scorsese, Sissy Spacek, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Heather Watts and Jerry Zaks. Carol Burnett has been seen on the Broadway stage in Once Upon a Mattress, Fade Out — Fade In, Moon Over Buffalo and Putting It Together. She spent 11 years on "The Carol Burnett Show" and has amassed six Emmy Awards for her work on that program and several other TV appearances. A production of Hollywood Arms, the play that she co-wrote with her late daughter Carrie Hamilton, played Broadway's Cort Theatre last season.
Mike Nichols — whose screen adaptation of Tony Kushner's Angels in America recently debuted on HBO — will direct the film of version of Patrick Marber's Closer. Nichols' received an Academy Award for Best Director for the 1968 classic "The Graduate." He was also Oscar nominated for Best Director for his work on "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "Silkwood" and "Working Girl." On Broadway, Nichols received Tony Awards for directing The Real Thing, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Plaza Suite, Barefoot in the Park and Luv and The Odd Couple.
Last year's Kennedy Center Honorees included Tony Award-winning singer/actress/dancer Chita Rivera, Tony-winning actor James Earl Jones, conductor James Levine, singer/songwriter Paul Simon and Academy Award-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor.
For more information about the Kennedy Center Honorees or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, visit www.kennedy-center.org.